How my husband became a short order cook {In his words}

  • The Free Mama
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  • June 15, 2017
  • With Father’s Day approaching, I was brainstorming ways that I could incorporate my husband into this blog. I already talk about him, so I asked him if he’d have any interest in contributing his thoughts on my blog. He agreed.

    I thought he may write about what it’s like to be married to a working mom, but what he came up with is so much better. It shows the love he has for his children, and the selfless spirit with which he entered our marriage and still shows me today {almost 8 years later}. I rely heavily on him to help with the kids and the house so that I have the time to pursue my own career, too. We are a team and I literally could not do it without him. I loved seeing what “help” looks like through his eyes, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

    Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there!


    In relationships we’ve all had moments where we admit we need help. As a husband, sometimes getting off the couch for a beer during a football game seems insurmountable. Going hungry seems justified considering the effort it would take to rise, hunt, and capture the appropriate snack, if it even exists. I thank my wife for her vigilance during these times.

    It’s ok to ask for help, we all need it. Sometimes the help is for big things, and sometimes it’s for small things (football snacks may fall under the latter). Relationships, especially marriage, rely on honesty and admitting when you need something.

    It wasn’t until we bought our first house that Lauren and I really took notice of each other’s habits and rituals. (Enter cliche remark about my toilet water magically turning blue here.) Early in our careers, no time was more stressful than the morning routine: hitting snooze on the alarm, showering, grooming, coffee, news, and breakfast all while trying to get out of the door on time. So when my wife asked for help in the morning, after pointing out she took more time to get ready for work than I did, I decided to tackle breakfast. What started as a bowl of cereal here, a fried egg and toast there, became something much bigger.

    After eight years, three houses, three cities, three kids, two cats and many burnt waffles later, I’ve become known around the house as “Chef”. It’s a title I’ve earned, and I hope it sticks around for a long, long time.

    Making my family breakfast has become one of the greatest experiences I’ve had as a father. (And it all started with my wife asking for help!) What’s especially great is that I get to recreate  the experience every morning. It’s starting the day with one small accomplishment before I set out for the rest of a hectic day full of unknowns. Plus, there’s something selfishly satisfying about curing hunger in the morning.

    I love making biscuits and gravy from scratch, with scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes. The entire house fills with smells of breakfast and the family gathers around our kitchen island to share a meal, be silly and discuss our day. It’s thirty minutes of family time.

    The Chef doesn’t always get to cook what he wants. (I’d pick grits and corn beef hash, a true Okie at heart. I just can’t help myself!) Lately pancakes have been at the top of the menu and I’m happy to oblige. Henry and Daphne love fried cinnamon apples on top, something my Mom used to make for me growing up. Lauren may want protein instead of carbs, so I’ll scramble some eggs. On a busy morning the kids may want cereal when I have oatmeal out. Hard boiled eggs go over better than fried, and omelets get me extra brownie points from the wife.

    It’s the first meal of the day, why not let them have a say!

    A simple rule in our kitchen: if you have the freedom of choice, it starts with a healthy one. Our kids have grown to love bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, apples, grapes and oranges. There’s always an exception to the rule, and ours sits adjacent to the coffee pot (a container holding mint chocolate chip cookies and, as of this writing, notably low. Something the family tends to be on edge about.)

    Despite countless authors and celebrities advising parents not be short order cooks – I say do it. At least for breakfast.

    With all the routines kids have these days offering them a little freedom in the morning can be refreshing. Eating habits shouldn’t be controlled, they should be influenced. I have a short menu of breakfast meals my wife and kids know they can order from. When they come into the kitchen for breakfast I’m not just a cook, I become a teacher, a counselor, a friend, and a father. (Life’s not perfect, sometimes I go full dictator. Like if yogurt starts flying like shrapnel in a Michael Bay film.)

    There’s so much focus on family time at dinner, which is enjoyed in my home, as well. But there’s something special about breakfast. A new day, a fresh meal, and a time for me to connect with my family. My wife asked me for help, but she ended up giving me the best job I’ve ever had. Put that on your toast and eat it.

    One thought on “How my husband became a short order cook {In his words}

    1. I have had the honor and pleasure of Justin’s breakfasts of champions. He makes them with a dash of talent, a pinch of sweetness and a cup full of love!

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